Wendell Allen, a retired Maumee Muncipal Court judge who earned a strict and tough reputation, especially in drunk driving cases, died Friday in Otterbein in Monclova Township. He was 82.
His wife of 60 years, Katherine Allen, said he died from heart failure and had been in declining health since 2001 after he underwent back surgery.
Mr. Allen was elected Maumee judge in 1975 with Democratic and Republican party endorsements. He was re-elected to two more six-year terms. He chose not to run for a fourth term in 1993, and instead retired.
"I wanted to enjoy my good health when I could," he told The Blade in a story published in 1994. "It's been a labor of love, and I want to thank the residents for their support."
During his 18 years as a jurist, Mr. Allen developed a reputation for throwing the book at drunk drivers. However, sentencing was the part of the job that he enjoyed the least, he told the newspaper.
"You're upholding your job and doing what needs to be done... You have a human being in front of you, and you do have compassion for the human being and his or her family, yet you feel compelled to do your duty. You're the guy who has to protect the interests of society."
Maumee Mayor and attorney Richard Carr said Judge Allen was very thorough and he expected the attorneys who appeared in court to be prepared and thorough as well.
As far as his stance on drunk driving convictions, Mr. Carr said Mr. Allen pushed for strong sentences when other judges were amending the charged to physical control and reckless operation.
"He was ahead of the curve on the approach he took in that, and is now followed by every court in the area," he said.
An Akron native, Mr. Allen enrolled in the University of Toledo college of law after serving in the Air Force. He worked as an adjuster for insurance companies during the day and went to classes at night, his wife said. He graduated in 1960, and subsequently was approved to practice law in Ohio.
He opened a private law office in Maumee and spent two years as a public defender in Toledo Municipal Court. He also served as acting judge in the Maumee court before getting elected in 1975.
Mr. Allen and his wife moved to Maumee in 1957 and he became active in many civic and service organizations.
He was a long time member of the Maumee Rotary, serving as president of the group. The Maumee Chamber of Commerce named him Outstanding Citizen in 1977. He was a past president of the chamber
Mr. Allen was born March 20, 1930. He graduated from 1948 from Akron Garfield High School. He ran track and cross country in high school and college.
He enrolled at the University of Akon and worked part-time at a department store, where he met the former Katherine McGeary, who also worked in the office. They were married on Dec. 27, 1952, after he earned a bachelor's degree in history from the University of Akron.
While attending college, Mr. Allen was in the Reserve Officers Training Corps and entered the U.S. Air Force as a second lieutenant. He was stationed in San Antonio and Japan.
Mr. Allen was an avid sports fan and attended area high school games, often with his children.
"Scott, Waite, anywhere there was a big game, he would go," Mr. Carr said. "That was the unique thing. He didn't follow a particular team."
Surviving are his wife, Katherine ; sons, Gregory and Douglas; daughters, Rebecca S. Griffith and Michelle Allen-Parker; brothers, Samuel and James Allen and Charles Held; four grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.
The family will receive friends from 3 to 8 p.m. Friday in the Maison-Dardenne- Walker Funeral Home, Maumee.
Memorial services will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday in St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Maumee.
The family suggests tributes to the church's endowment.